Monday, April 30, 2012

Tips for Power Walkers

 With the Power Walk quickly approaching, you may be starting to think of the best ways to find success on the day of the walk.  Here are a few tips from our spokesperson, Elisabeth Walker-Young.

1. Start training now.  Begin slowly and gradually work up to longer walks at a quicker pace.  Leaving yourself ample time to train will ensure that you can safely prepare your body for a positive, fun, and injury-free Power Walk.

2. Wear good shoes and comfortable clothes.  Being comfortable will ensure that you can focus all of your attention on the walk instead of on sore feet.  If you wear layers, you’ll be able to stay warm at the beginning of the walk and cool off later on once your heart-rate is high.

3. Set goals for yourself.  Elisabeth Walker- Young says that setting challenging yet achievable goals has played a big part in her success as a Paralympian.  Try to set a long term goal, such as beating last years’ time, and then work backwards, setting short term goals, such as times per week that you’ll train, which will help you reach your desired end result. 

4. Most importantly, have fun!  Train with a friend so that you can share some laughs and encourage each other to reach your full potential.  Take advantage of some of the gorgeous walks that Vancouver has to offer and use them as your training grounds.  The False creek loop, English Bay, and Stanley Park are all great places to train and are sure to provide you with stunning scenery and beautiful views.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Power Walk Profile - Elisabeth Walker-Young

We are so excited to have Elisabeth Walker-Young on board for the second year as the face of Power Walk for Dress for Success Vancouver! 

As a four-time Paralympic gold medal winner in swimming, Elisabeth is an unstoppable woman who radiates commitment and drive.  After participating in 4 Summer Paralympic games, she now serves as the assistant Chef de Mission for the 2012 Canadian Paralympic team, helping lead them to excellence at the upcoming London 2012 games.  As an active contributor to her community, Elisabeth was honoured to carry the torch for both the Olympic and Paralympic torch relays in 2010, an experience which she says was charged with indescribable power and energy.

Elisabeth is an advocate for a healthy, active lifestyle, something which she shares through her extensive work in the community, teaching spin class at a local community center and through volunteering, educating different clubs, coaches, athletes, and sponsors.  Her strategy for fitting physical activity into a busy schedule is to make exercise a part of her daily routine and to challenge herself with new activities so that staying fit is fun.

Elisabeth has managed to overcome obstacles as an accomplished Paralympic swimmer and she is happy to share her tools for success.   She stresses the value of setting goals in different areas of your life which are challenging but achievable.  Goals that are written down will hold you accountable and will help you reach your highest potential.  Elisabeth says that the most important factor in realising your goals is to never listen to naysayers or anyone who tells you that “you can’t.” 

Elisabeth’s interest in Dress for Success stems from her desire to “empower people to challenge themselves, see themselves differently, and try something new.”  We are so thrilled to have such an inspirational woman as part of our team and we can’t wait for you to meet her at the upcoming Power Walk.  

Breakfast Club - Round 3

The Breakfast Club, the fourth program introduced by Dress for Success Vancouver, completed its third cycle of sessions last week.

This 12 week program is aimed to provide the participants with an arsenal of practical skills that they can use as they search for employment. With space and coffee donated by Chubb Insurance, the participants discussed their struggles, accomplishments and held each other accountable. (Huge thanks to Emma for your tasty, tasty baking and Kathy for your incredible hospitality!)

Karen McDonald, one of the coordinators of this cycle was committed to providing the clients with tangible skills that they can use in the reality of job search.  Along with Andrea Potter (long time Dress for Success Vancouver volunteer) and Antoinette Ridout, they covered the STAR exercise, Telephone Etiquette and went into great depths with interviewing. .

Here are a few of the Thank You's from the participants!

Thank you for getting me on the right track with my job and helping me build a solid foundation for my new career.  I was going in the wrong direction and the extraordinary advice that you gave me and our group was invaluable!  The gift that you gave us was inspiration combined with practical toughness.  This was the reason so many of us got much better jobs than we would have without your guidance.  Thank you again.
 "Thank you for your energy, life experiences and knowledge.  Verbal examples bring to life what everyone feels everyday but rarely act upon. I know what I have learned through this time at DFS / Breakfast Club, is that people do care and are willing to freely help others succeed.  It is hard to say in a small statement how great this has been.  I have learned, cried and appreciated everyone in the class.  I will remember all the quotes, expressions periodically and when I do I will smile.  I wish for you all to be safe, healthy and believe in yourselves and what you feel.  Keep up the great work and know you all will be lovingly remembered". 

 What I will take away from the sessions with you, Karen, Antoinette, and Andrea are your:
  • 'go get it' attitude - you always convey this sense of finding a way to get a job (via networking, by cold calling, by dig-deep researching target companies)
  • belief in us - that we have something very much worth offering the companies/institutions out there  
  • openness to share your insights, own career stories  
  • desire to see us succeed.
 I am truly grateful for all the great ideas and help that you provided me and our group.  When we were stuck in our job search or did not know who to contact at a company - you always came up with new answer or different method that we could try.  The creative solutions that you offered our group helped us tremendously.  I know that you kept asking me, "Do you need any advanced education or training for being a Fashion Stylist?"  Well the answer is yes and thankfully the Bay pays tuition!  Thank you.

Huge thanks to Karen, Andrea and Antoinette for your commitment to the clients and their success.  With your help, 3 clients found full time work, 1 part time (to supplement her small business) and 2 contracts.   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The story of a yellow cardigan

Last week, the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP)  had their international conference in Vancouver. Fundraisers from all over flocked to the Vancouver Convention Centre for the 3 day event.  The attendees were encouraged to donate gently used and current business wear to Dress for Success Vancouver as part of the conference.

On the opening day, Eloise, a client of Dress for Success, shared her story with the 4000 people in attendance.  There was not a dry eye in the audience after she spoke.  Following the presentation, one of the international delegates was so moved by Eloise's story that she approached the Dress for Success table and donated the new yellow, cashmere cardigan off her back.

I was so thrilled when this cardigan came in. Not only was it gorgeous, but I loved the story that came with it. I  put it on display immediately!

A little background info on our Dressing Services

Dress for Success Vancouver clients have 2 opportunities to use the Dressing Services. On the interview appointment, a volunteer stylist will work with the client to find a full outfit to wear to her interview, and when she finds employment, she can come back two more outfits to start a mini working wardrobe!

Today, we had thirteen clients came in, some were preparing for interviews and others just landed a job.  Rachel had come in last year for her interview outfit and arrived today for her employment suiting. Can you guess where this is going?

The yellow cardigan found a new home!

Thank you to the AFP conference for selecting Dress for Success Vancouver to participate.
Thank you to Eloise for sharing her story with over 4000 people.
Thank you to the delegate who donated the sweater off her back.
Thank you to the volunteer, Christine, who helped Rachel find her fabulous outfits
Thank you to Rachel for modeling one of the outfits you went home with today. Congratulations on your new job!

For the most up to date information on Dress for Success Vancouver, please subscribe to this blog (look at the top right side of the page), "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Valerie Braacx
Dress for Success Vancouver Staff

Monday, April 2, 2012

Root Volumizesr, Colour safe shampoos and curl activators, oh my!

On March 23, Vancouver based hair care company AG Hair, dropped off 220 boxes of fantastic product to the office. Each box contains 25 pieces for a total of 5,500 products for us to distribute to our clients!

Thank you AG for your incredible support of Dress for Success Vancouver.

Thank you to South Coast Casuals.

On the weekend of March 10th, South Coast Casuals in Ladner supported Dress for Success Vancouver through a one day suit drive! That day, they offered in store specials on Tribal and the opportunity to meet Mathew Beck, Tribal's Director of Sales. They also gave a free gift to the first 100 customers who came in with a donation!

Three Dress for Success Volunteers were on the scene to represent us and receive the fabulous clothing from the donors.

Bill and Tracey, owners of South Coast Casuals, delivered the 14 racks of clothing themselves on Monday morning! Sandy, our Dressing Services Coordinator, with absolutely thrilled with the quality of the donation :)

Thank you so much to everyone who supported the drive at South Coast Casuals and to Bill, Tracey and Jill putting on this amazing drive for us!

If you are interested in hosting a suit drive, please contact Sandy at